2.1. Why I Write Test Plans

In Chapter 1, "Defining What's on Your Plate: The Foundation of a Test Project," I discussed how I set the scope, schedule, and budget parameters for my test projects. Given a budget, resource commitments, and a schedule, can you claim that you have a test plan? Some people do. In my experience, however, you need more detail to successfully manage a test project. Below the objectives and estimates feature d in Chapter 1 lurks another layer of complexity, right above the specific details of test suites—and it pays to consider this complexity in advance.

Writing a test plan gives you a chance to collect your thoughts, your ideas, and your memories. Undoubtedly you've learned a great deal throughout the course of your career. Writing a thorough test plan gives you a chance to crystallize that knowledge into a concrete way of tackling the tasks ahead.

I see the test plan also as an opportunity to communicate with my test team, my development colleagues, and my managers. The most intense discussion of what testing is all about often occurs when I hold a test plan review. I appreciate the chance to have a forum focused solely on testing before a project enters the often-chaotic test execution periods, in which everyone can become so oriented toward minutiae that they lose sight of the big picture.

In some organizations, the test plan encompasses the entirety of the test effort, all the way down to defining all the individual test cases—often called the

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